Dear Beginning Bloggers: ten things you should know

GUYS!!

TODAY WE’RE GONNA TALK ABOUT BLOGGING!!!

Over the past year I’ve had a ton of people ask various and sundry questions about the craft, and, well… this is where the wicked glint comes into my eyes, and things devolve into ominous cackling.

Am I qualified to write this post? Have I been blogging for years, gained thousands of followers, and am a master at the pursuit? Hardly.

Yet I’m still writing it, and you’re still reading it, so here we go. Ten things I wish I knew when I started The Sarcastic Elf. Ten things I learned the hard way. Ten things you can spare yourself from.

Yahoo.

(Read the sister post I did on writing here.)

 

1. This isn’t fun (so you better be dedicated)

Friends. I know how it goes. Right now, you think it’s fun. You think it’s easy, and you’re so inspired.

Friends. I see it in your eyes. You think it will always stay this way.

FRIENDS.

LEMME LEARN YOU A THING.

It will not be fun. You will not be inspired. Six months from now, you’ll be staring at a blank word document at 3 A.M. the night before your posting day, wondering why God has forsaken you.

Blogging is hard. Writing consistently every week is hard. Coming up with ideas consistently every week is hard. Marketing is hard. Answering comments is hard. Staying on schedule is hard. Growing a following is hard. Staying inspired is hard. BLOGGING IS HARD.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. Nothing matches the thrill of watching your platform grow, of meeting new people and making new friends and having someone tell you, “You make the internet a better place.”

But the fundamental core of blogging success, the absolute ground-zero where you start, is this: If you’re not dedicated, you will fail.

If you’re not ready to pull the late hours and beat your head into a wall every once in a while, then you might as well stop now. Sure, you can do this as a hobby; you can skip the heavy-lifting if you want to. But this is a blog. Not knitting or mowing the yard or painting your bedside table.

If you want results, you have to work for them. Period. End of subject. Kapeesh.

 

2. The “Brand” thing (it’s okay to not have one)

Ah yes, that vague and mysterious “brand,” that esoteric property everyone yells at us to have but doesn’t tell us how to get. Simply put, your brand is… well, the entirety of you. The genre of your blog. What you write about. How you write it. Your personal quirks. Blog aesthetics. The whole shebang. All of it wraps together and makes a blog uniquely yours.

(For instance, my brand is humor, slice-of-life, creativity, and a dash (probably more like a boatload) of Christianity  peppering my weird and dumb ramblings. When people come to my blog, this is what they expect to find.)

Some people say that you absolutely must have a brand set in stone before you even think about blogging.

I… I disagree.

*and the crowd gasps*

When you start out, you know nothing. Absolutely nothing. Even if you think you know everything (*coughs* as in my case…), you really can’t know anything until you actually get out there in the bloggisphere and see how things work for yourself. You need time to learn how to be a good blogger. You need time to work out the kinks. You need time to establish who you are as an internet writer and what message you want your blog to send.

Even if you have a fairly good idea of all that now (or even if you have absolutely no clue), your brand will evolve as time goes on and you get better at what you do. Give yourself room to try things. Change your aesthetics three times a week. Write different genres of posts. Experiment with voice. Figure out what you really want to write about, and how to best write it. Don’t limit yourself to the box you started in.

 

3. Don’t reread your old posts.

“They can’t be that bad,” you say after several years of blogging. “I just want to indulge in some nostalgia!”

Don’t do it. Stay strong. Don’t. DON’T. YOU WILL REGRET IT.

THEY ARE THAT BAD.

 

4. Consistency and creating a schedule

Nothing throws readers off like a blogger who doesn’t have a schedule and never posts when they say they will.

I get it, things happen. I’ve taken a few accidental hiatuses myself. But if you make a habit of it, people will stop trusting you, and that’s that.

 

5. It’s okay to not be famous

People be like, “Oh no! I’ve been blogging for 4.6 days but only have one follower, who is my mom! Oh no! I’ll never make it! Guess I’ll just quit!”

Loki Rolls Eyes GIF by Reactions | Gfycat

The sad truth is, it will probably take you months (maybe even a year or two) to establish a solid following. The first six months after I started, my site got maybe 30 visits a month. (And 25 of those where my family.) It’s discouraging, and many times you’ll want to throw in the towel, because what’s the point of writing this stuff if no one’s going to read it?

DON’T THROW IN THE TOWEL. Building a following takes time, and it will only happen if you stick with it.

 

6. Loyalty trumps numbers

Behold the golden rule of blogging: Followers are friends, not tickets to fame. A few dedicated followers who will take the time to actually read and comment are better than hoards of followers who delete your new-post notification email as soon as it appears. (I have 345 followers, but only about 80 consistently read my posts.) These are the people who will stick with you through every flubbed post and accidental hiatus. These are the people who will support you and help you grow.

Do not take these people for granted.

 

7. Editing matters

Do you undersand me? It’s nno fun reding something if you have too run erythin thru goggle translite frst.

 

8. A man who has friends must himself be friendly

PEOPLE WILL NOT FIND YOU! IF YOU DO NOT! FIND! THEM! FIRST!

FOLLOW OTHER BLOGS! COMMENT CONSISTENTLY ON THEIR POSTS! DO INSTAGRAM! DO FACEBOOK! ATTEND THE NETHERFIELD BALL!

Seriously. If you want people to know about your stuff, you’ll have to cram your presence down their throats.

(But in a non-annoying way.)

(Please, please do it in a non-annoying way. None of that “will you follow my blog please?” business.)

 

9. You aren’t your favorite blogger

Confession time: When I first started this thing, I wanted it to be just like a blog I followed called Writefury.

I wanted to write like Writefury. I wanted to sound like Writefury. I wanted to snark like Writefury. I wanted to have a Dallas Knight like Writefury.

This was okay. Kids, do you hear me? It’s okay to have blogging heroes and look up to people and admire their talent and learn from it.

It is not okay to try and copy them.

  1. You will fail.
  2. You will be a jerk.
  3. You will look like a butterknife instead of the intended Anduril replica.

People want to hear from you, and believe it or not, what you have to say can be every bit as grand as your favorite blogger. But you are not your favorite writer, and you can’t blog like them. So please don’t.

(Writefury, by the way, wrote a lovely book named Blank Mastermind which is absolutely hysterical and I highly recommend.)

(And for the record, I would still be totally okay with being her.)

 

10. Remember your priorities

The day will come when you find yourself holed up in your room for five hours straight, hunched over your laptop with red-rimmed eyes and cackling maniacally from the stress, when a family member calls you.

“I’M BUSY,” you screech, releasing the full Ringwraith range of your voice and proceeding to stay in your hole for the next two days.

*cough* Things I’ve definitely never done before. Definitely.

Blogging be hard, man. It be hard – not just devoting time to it, but knowing when not to devote time to it. Remembering that we have lives and families and a God outside the little 18” confines of our computer screen. And if blogging takes us too far away from those things, then perhaps, for a time, the blog needs to go.

The amount of times I use the words “blog”, “post”, and “followers” in this post (shoot, I did it again) is making me uncomfortable.

In summary: If you start a blog, be perfect at it or no one will read it.

(Just kidding.)

~Sarah

 

33 thoughts on “Dear Beginning Bloggers: ten things you should know

  1. “ATTEND THE NETHERFIELD BALL!”

    I lost it. XD

    Seriously though, this is good advice for more than just blogging. These exact principles could easily be applied to marketing a published book.

    Like

  2. Sounds about right; maybe I’ll have to try it sometime XD

    I am very glad you’re sticking to it. You make a lot of people smile and laugh and think, and that is amazing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. *applauds* YES. THIS. YEP. Also, if you’re not blogging professionally, one tip is maybe not take yourself so seriously?? My favorite blogs are the ones where the bloggers are being authentic. Personally, I don’t enjoy reading blogs where the blogger is trying to hard and… yeah.
    One thing I’ve found to be a little different for me is about posting consistently. I do post consistently now, but I follow bloggers that don’t and honestly I still LOVE their blogs. The ones that annoy me to the point of unfollowing is when they SAY they will post consistently and then DON’T. If, as to your last point about priorities, they know they’re going to post sometimes and live life sometimes, good for them. But it just gets depressing when every couple of months they will come back saying, “THIS time I will post once a week for the rest of my life, starting now,” and then half a year goes by… you know. That’s where the consistency matters just as much as your content, because people won’t trust you. On the other hand, for most bloggers, if you skip posting a week, no one will notice except you and maybe two family members or something. Even though I love a blog, I follow so many that I don’t notice when someone doesn’t post on schedule.
    Thus ends my rant. That was an excellent post and I will leave now. *bows*

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Mmm, yes, excellent point there! I hadn’t thought about that but I completely agree with you. I guess that’s the difference between personal blogs and platform blogs, though I think a truly good one should be a mix of the two.

      Like

  4. Your experiences with blogging are so uncannily similar to my own that I just blinked with a nervous giggle. Like…the brand thing? The don’t-read-old-posts? The famousness or lack thereof? The obsession over Writefury?? I believe your mind was once fused with mine. Scary thought. *coughs* But yes, excellent tips. At the risk of inflating your ego, at some point I switched from Writefury to YOU. Like, I wanted to write like you, blog like you, be like you. It doesn’t work and thankfully I figured that out pretty quickly. XD God has made us all unique, there’s no point in trying to be someone else. Very cliche, I know, and hard to swallow sometimes, but true.

    BLANK MASTERMIND IS TOTALLY AWESOME and I snatch every chance I get to yell that out into the universe. Thank you for providing me with this chance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly though, I think everyone wanted to be Writefury at some point in their lives. Like, I’m not even kidding. I don’t know what it is about her (or maybe the fact that she was perhaps one of the first real bloggers in our specific writing circle) but seriously. We wanted to be her. All of us. Some said they didn’t. But deep down inside, they really did. They still do. The hold Writefury has on us runs deep. 😝

      (And yes, my ego inflated perhaps just a bit, but honestly? That’s so incredibly sweet of you and I just can’t wrap my mind around it.)

      My blog has turned into one huge add for Blank Mastermind. I’m not even sorry.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “LEMME LEARN YOU A THING”

    EVERYTHING.IN.THIS.POST.IS.GOLD.AND.TOTAL.TRUTH. nOw eXcUsE mE aS I gO wAiL oVeR mY tErrIbLe FiRsT bLoG pOsTs 0.o blah

    My greatest struggle is definitely posting consistently (but I’ve been working on a schedule so hopefully I’ll get better with that, lol).

    Writing posts is H A R D.

    It’s taken me about…what? Almost two years to actually figure out my brand/the theme and focus of my blog? And that’s only because I’ve been blogging and getting experience during that time. Like anything in life, blogging is a journey: you don’t just start out perfect! The important thing isn’t to have everything figured out, it’s to just get STARTED (which in my opinion is the hardest part), the brand and your personal writing voice will come with time and experience.
    ~Julia

    PS. *cough* speaking of blogging heroes…*motions to you* XD

    Liked by 3 people

    1. EVERYTHING YOU SAID.

      CAN I GET AN AMEN FROM THE BACK?

      WRITING IS HARD.

      BLOGGING IS A JOURNEY.

      THE MOST IMPORTANT PART IS SIMPLY TO START.

      YES YES YES DAS GOOD

      Like

  6. This is actually great because I am trying to start a blog (but ended up accidentally signing up for a business website or something so now I have to redo everything bleh). Thank you for your words of wisdom :D. Haha, yes, definitely attend the Netherfield ball! (and get yourself someone who knows how to style your hair like Lizzie’s. And by Lizzie I do not, repeat NOT, mean Keira Knightley. She is an imposter. A disgrace to the esteemed name of Lizzie Bennet. A blight on the fandom of P&P).
    Ahem.
    Lovely that I’m not the only Ringwraith around here. (Seriously, though, have you ever wanted to…to be a Ringwraith?
    I totally haven’t.
    Not at all).
    Now excuse me whilst I traipse off to tackle the STUPID, FAT HOBBIT OF A BLOGGING SETUP–er, I mean, the happy, pizza-y, wonderful one.
    Hehe.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jennifer Ehle will always and forever be the only Elizabeth Bennett I accept. You are quite on point with that.

      Ringwraiths are cool because they freak people out just by breathing on them and emanate dark creepy vibes that scare the living daylights out of people and I would totally love to have these powers. 😂

      Good luck with your blog! That sounds like a… hassle… to have to deal with. 😖

      Like

  7. I wish I’d read this when I first started blogging! I knew absolutely nothing (and I may have attempted to copy a very successful blogger who I knew at the time….XD).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am now going to go around calling copycats butter knives and it’s all your fault.

    Seriously though, as someone who has been looking into the world of platform building and blogging, this was really helpful!

    Like

  9. i
    *promptly bows down in awe*
    what shall i do with this post
    i shall print it
    and paste it over my door
    and shove it into the face of everyone who screams that art should be made for fame and fortune (totally not me)
    this beautiful mass of words and knowledge? *chef’s kiss* wonderful, outstanding, absolutely brilliant.
    this also reminds me: sometimes people aren’t gonna comment on stuff you write, but that doesn’t necessarily make it trash. (in my case it’s trash even before people don’t comment on it.) it’s still worth continuing (at least for the sake of your nonexistent sanity)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. YES. All of it. Not that I’m, ya know, actually flawless at this or anything. But I TRY. Ha! These are amazing tips for new bloggers, and amazing reminders for long-time bloggers! Blogging is nOT for the faint-hearted, that’s for certain. *hides behind my 28 post drafts waiting to be finished*

    Once again, excellent post!

    Like

  11. I love, love, loved this post so much. Good advice wrapped in humorous wrapping paper; the best kind. I’m still waiting for my opportunity to attend the Netherfield ball… *sighs wistfully* That was one of my favorite bits of advice you shared; that and the last line: “In summary: If you start a blog, be perfect at it or no one will read it.” THAT MUST BE WHY I’M TERRIBLE AT BLOGGING, lol… perfection is not one of my virtues. XD

    GREAT post, Sarah!! <33

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Advice point three is…
    good advice a couple months too late.
    *laughs hysterically and falls over melting into a mass puddle of shame and tears*

    Like

  13. Thank you for this post…I probably need it being a beginning blogger myself, xD. (And if it flatters you at all, as I started my blog, you were basically my version of Writefury.)

    Like

  14. Attending the Netherfield ball will most certainly be my first order of business if I ever get a chance to start a blog.

    Like

  15. That editing segment tho…I died

    You are the blogger I aspire to be 😀 Thank you for the advice and information!

    Like

  16. THANK YOU for confirming what I’ve always secretly thought: it’s okay not to have a brand.

    I’ve been blogging for a year. Do I have a brand? I don’t know. It’s me. It’s things I like. I think that’s okay. So thank you.

    (Also the rest of this post was amazing too. But I always find it hard to comment on the entirety of a post, for some reason.)

    Like

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